If you thought Kakaako's dining scene has cooled off, you'd be wrong. Things are only heating up, with cafes and local and Asian restaurants the latest adds to the scene. Here's a list of spots that have opened recently or are opening soon.
Blue Tree Cafe
Kevin Aoki's Blue Tree Cafe branches out to Kakaako makai with its popular cold-pressed juices, coffee drinks and light vegan fare. Filled with natural light with many textures and objets d'art to rest your eyes upon, the lofted cafe is a nice place to work or spend an hour or two. This is the first of three concepts Aoki is opening at The Collection; the others are Qing Mu, a Chinese noodle bar, and 1938 Indochine, a Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant.
The Collection • 600 Ala Moana Blvd. • Weekdays 6 a.m. - 6 p.m., weekends 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
It seems like the nationwide Korean supermarket chain announced its expansion to the islands eons ago; now construction is finally under way for H-Mart's first Oahu store. Initial plans for the former Alu Like building call for its transformation into a two-story market with groceries and food on the ground floor and a full-fledged food hall up top. I can't wait to shop and eat here.
458 Keawe St. • Under construction
Yes, it's yet another boba shop! It's Tea is just about to open on Kamakee Street near Ward Village and will have plenty of fresh-brewed tea drinks with toppings like milk, yogurt, ice cream and boba. The only challenge is the parking situation — it looks like it's metered street parking for the time being.
435 Kamakee St., Unit 102 • Opening soon
Keiki and the Pineapple
An oasis for parents and keiki, this new cafe-and-child-play concept takes over the long-vacant Greens & Vines space next to Mr. Tea in the 909 Kapiolani building. The menu has family-friendly offerings like unicorn toast ($4 keiki, $7 adult), acai bowls, smoothies and other cafe drinks. This is great for mommy dates or for urban parents that need to get out of the house with the keiki in tow.
909 Kapiolani Blvd. • Tue-Fri 6:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., Sat-Sun 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Milky Way Hawaii Ice
A shave ice truck with brown sugar boba and milk tea drinks? It sounds like a place I'd run to every day. I tried a mango snowthie, which is a snow ice smoothie blended with fruit, shaved snow and ice cream — easily one of the most refreshing drinks on the market. You get the light, slushy effect of melting snow followed by smooth mango fruit and a creamy vanilla ice cream finish. It kept me cool the whole way back to my office.
710 Pohukaina St. • Mon-Sat 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Redfish Poke Bar by Foodland
Foodland will open a 36-seat eatery, the local supermarket chain's first, at Salt Kakaako by the end of October. Redfish will have poke and other dishes plus local beers, craft cocktails and sake. It'll be a full-service restaurant, lounge and bar. You can get poke to go by the pound or in poke bowls, and all the ahi will be fresh. The move by one of the power players in the local poke scene is huge news and a welcome addition to the bustling Salt complex.
Salt at Our Kakaako • 691 Auahi St. • Opening this fall
Ya-ya's Chophouse & Seafood
Initial photos of the menu show seafood towers and a full bar with seating inside and out of the space next to Real Gastropub. Ya-Ya's will be the third eatery for Ho Suk Lee and Bo Pathammavong, owners of Uncle Bo's Pupu Bar & Grill in Kapahulu and Haleiwa. Being a chophouse, expect a nice variety of steaks and other dishes for carnivores.
Keauhou Lane • 502 Keawe St. • Opening soon